Proteas in Sri Lanka, day 12

Two days off between the second and third ODIs on the tour schedule looked like an enticing prospect several weeks ago. A ‘day off’ on tour, in times gone by, would comprise breakfast at a reasonable time, a trip to team nets, a run and a couple of hours of writing. And an hour or so by the hotel swimming pool, if it had one. The last bit was what made it a ‘day off.’

These days, a ‘day off’ is a day potentially losing your marbles. Not all of them. Not the big, important ones, but the small ones, definitely. 

How can you spend an hour pondering the truth that sachets of Nescafe coffee have not become easier to open in the last 30 years? They are not just smaller than they were, with less coffee granules, but they are trickier than ever to open without losing much of the contents on the floor. And you still have to use your teeth unless you’re strong enough to tear telephone books in half. (Are there still telephone books?)

It’s sensible, basic economics, I suppose. Put less coffee in the sachets, keep them really difficult to open with a likelihood that half the contents will end up on the floor when you ‘succeed’, and you’ll have double reason to buy more of them. 

The coffee thing was in the afternoon. The morning wasn’t the best, either. Constrained as we are to seventh floor of our bio-bubble hotel, overlooking a glorious swimming pool, we can at least eat breakfast on a balcony overlooking the Colombo Lake. And what a breakfast it is. Fruit, pastries, cereal, yoghurt and all of the cooked options. The staff, of course, are in our bubble, so we are familiar with each other now. I’d go further – genuine friendships have been formed. Wahid is the omelette man, and he is brilliant. I am a once-a-month omelette man at home, but – with Wahid – I am an omelette-a-day man. Onion, mushroom, chilli, bacon, tomato and cheese. Add 3-4 rashers of crispy bacon on the side from the buffet.

All was well until I nipped back inside to grab a glass a fresh watermelon juice. The crows require less than three seconds to raid an unattended plate. My bacon was gone, with a claw-print on the omelette as a parting signature. All this stuff lasts longer in a bio-bubble. You want to concentrate on why you’re here, and who will replace Kagiso Rabada when he doesn’t pass his fitness test tomorrow, and whether Janneman Malan has forced his way into the T20 squad…which will be announced, oddly, on Thursday, before the T20 series against Sri Lanka begins. 

It was a riveting and compelling performance to level the ODI series on Saturday and, for what it’s worth, I believe South Africa are slight favourites to take the series, weather permitting. 

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